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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Men leave their wives when they become seriously ill


I read a serious discussion article today in The Times that says men are 7 times more likely than women to leave their spouse when that spouse becomes seriously ill.

I am shocked. Of course, it's always easy to say "I wouldn't" before experiencing the horrors of that sort of situation but I think men should remember the phrase "for better for poorer, in sickness and in health".

But what is the divorce law view of that? Could he divorce her?

Grounds for divorce include unreasonable behaviour. That seems to me to be the only ground relevant if a man leaves his wife in these circumstances. I suppose aspects of a seriously ill wife's behaviour may well be viewed by a husband as "unreasonable" and he may well feel he cannot cope with the pressure of continuing to look after her. But to be "unreasonable behaviour" for divorce proceedings it has to be capable in law of being so. If she is ill, then it is unlikely to be seen as unreasonable for her to exhibit the behaviour caused by the particular illness.

So, I cannot see any grounds for a divorce of her by him. But she could certainly seek a divorce on the ground of unreasonable behaviour citing his leaving when she needs him most.

Andrew Woolley
Divorce Solicitor

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